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How Much Affection?

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How Much Affection?

Published 1958

How far can young people go in petting and still stay within the bounds of personal standards and social mores?

Run time 19:48
Producer Crawley Films
Sponsor N/A
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W


Presents frank discussion of how much affection there should be between a couple going steady. How far can young people go in petting and still stay within the bounds of social mores and personal standards is one question considered.

Ken Smith sez: Yet another depressing Crawley film. In this one, Laurie comes home from a date in tears because Jeff tried to steer her into "wrong behavior." "Oh, Mother, I don't know what to think," she cries. "I'm so mixed up!" But mother is reassuring. "Your physical urges fight against your reason," she explains. "In the height of emotion it's not always easy to think things through." We are then shown a very sad vignette of Eileen, whose physical urges were stronger than Laurie's. She had to leave school (and get married, of course) while her boyfriend, who wanted to be a lawyer, now has to work in a steel mill. They are a very sad couple, as are all people in Crawley films who make the wrong decisions. This film ends as Jeff and Laurie, now reconciled and with a more mature outlook, come back from a date and find a note telling them that her parents won't be home for at least several hours (what parents in their right minds -- especially in a film like this -- would leave a note like that?). Will Jeff and Laurie succumb to temptation? We are left to wonder -- but it doesn't look promising.
Shows a 1957 DeSoto automobile.

A summer night. Outside a quiet suburban home, the crickets are chirping. A late model tailfinned car brakes to a halt. Mary jumps out, runs up to the house, away from Jeff. The front door slams shut. Mary, in anguish, leans against the inside door.
She confides in her mother. "We parked...and things seemed to happen...until we nearly --" Mother closes her eyes in pain, but answers, "You know, dear, I was young once, too. Perhaps I can understand something of what you feel." Then, a scant few minutes after How Much Affection? has begin, she delivers its central message:
"First, well, it all seems quite a lark. You like someone, he likes you. Everything is fun and affection. Then, all at once, you can find yourself in a situation when your physical urges fight against your reason. Then those fine thoughts of love and affection can suddenly get twisted....If these strong feelings lead you into behaving unwisely, well, the outcome can be guilt and frustration, and these are the things that can spoil the chance of your finding the very love that you're looking for." She is addressing the camera, now.
Mom continues: "In the height of emotion, it's not always easy to stop and think things through. But if you'll, if you'll just slow down the rush and pressure of your feelings a little, then judgment has a better chance to take hold and guide you away from wrong behavior. When you can rely on judgment rather than emotion to rule your behavior, as you did tonight, then you'll really be grown up. I can help, by talking things over with you and giving suggestions, but you'll have to work our your own best way to make emotions work for you and not against you." They hug. Mary is smiling.
The rest of the film shows Jeff and Mary trying to construct a relationship that is based on more than sexual attraction. In so doing, they have the eloquent example of friends Eileen and Fred, who were forced into a shotgun wedding, had a baby and couldn't stay in school. Fred's aspirations to be a lawyer are dashed. As for Eileen, one of her friends says it all: "Imagine marrying someone who has to marry you." Eileen even wonders whether her friends will stop to acknowledge her on the street.
It's party time. Jeff, somewhat inarticulate, asks Mary if she will wear his school ring. She consents and takes it. They kiss. A real kiss. They are overcome emotionally, and start to dance again. The other teens start to make out. On the way home Stu and Marge, their double-dates are making out in the back seat; they want to "go to the port and park awhile" but Jeff refuses. The other couple razzes them for being "pills" and leaves. Jeff and Mary endure this verbal abuse silently. Mary invites Jeff in for a sandwich and to see her parents; he accepts. A note says Mom and Dad will not be back until about two; they put on music and dance. This is the moment of temptation, but Mary rechannels it into food. Speaking seductively, she offers Jeff ham, tomato, bacon, cucumber. They kiss. Off screen we hear an echo of Mary's mother's words about slowing down and Jeff's words about not losing everything for a few minutes of pleasure. They dance cheek to cheek.
"How far to pet?" The question stirred fifties and sixties educational filmmakers sufficiently to produce several films. Besides How Much Affection, there was How to Say No: Moral Maturity (Coronet Instructional Films, 1951) and How Do I Love Thee? (Brigham Young University, 1965), and the question was constantly broached in period teen advice manuals. Quite frequently, petting was the hidden issue behind the controversial question of whether or not to go steady, which was itself treated in a number of films. All of these films were a response to the sexual acceleration in late 1950s teen culture, when peer pressure and prevailing "street morality" favored heavy petting.
How Much Affection? scores a plus by avoiding any prescriptive rules and regulations, but my gut feeling is that teens had a hard time identifying with the film. For one thing, the kids look much too old for their parts, like adults trying to play teenagers. For another, not all teenagers might respond well to such an open agenda, asking them to think things through and find their "own best way to make emotions work for you and not against you." This is a tall order for any age group. Finally, Jeff and Mary's successful management of their mutual desire depends on alienating their friends outside their relationship, and this kind of solution would be problematic for most people.
Nonetheless, Crawley films always seem to live in three dimensions when compared to the flat and formulaic educational films made by most U.S. makers. Their higher production values and superior acting may focus our attention on the film more than on the message it's made to impart, but result in a movie that's a complex creature filled with open-ended clues about its time. And, after all, this is why we value ephemeral films today.



Reviewer: JSBejma - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 26, 2016
Subject: At This Point...Too Much
They're gonna fuck - like, real soon. No turning back at this point. It's inevitable. If nothing, HIS mind is made up. Mary would best learn oral if she doesn't want to wind up like Fred and Eileen. I swore these were Jew kids (Stu?), but the bacon sandwich business? I guess not.
Reviewer: JayKay49 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 12, 2012
Subject: "...Cucumber, cucumber....gotta get my mind off the cucumber..."
The sexual tension at the end of this movie is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

And whenever I saw headlights go off and the sounds of chirping crickets became audible, I held my breath in suspense.

It's interesting to note how freaked out a young girl in those days could get once she's actually seen (maybe touched) the BF's "blessed sacrament" (I guess that's what happened). Mom was very cool calm and collected though. Judging from the way she talked, she obviously swung from a few of 'em in her day.

Brings to mind that right about the time this film was made, while I was snooping through the letters my much oldest brother (who was the same age as these kids) got from his friend's girlfriend when she was in "the Home" aka "Alma" I can attest to the fact that some of those chicks were already very experienced! Don't kid yourself. "Sausage Over the Sea?" Didn't take much imagination for a 9 yr old to figure that out.

Another thing, is it me or do those high schoolers look way more mature then they do today...even though today's kids are on average 3" taller and 40 pounds heavier? I don't think its just the casting either...hung around my brother's parties a lot; they really did look that way.

Excellent film with good acting. Very cutting edge for its day. It would have been more realistic though, if her nylons were in a tatter when she walked into the house at the beginning. From the looks of things I presume they were.
Reviewer: usbilly - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 4, 2011
Subject: it is good i like it.
it is good i like it.
Reviewer: idealtypical - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 17, 2011
Subject: Actually suggests that we are now living in reactionary times.
I see this film rather differently than some of the other respondents:

Although this cautionary tale about coping with teenage hormones, produced in 1958, is unquestionably clunky and lacking in verisimilitude, what took me by surprise is that it is nowhere close to being as shrill, preachy, and condescending as its 2011 analogue would surely be. Whereas "How Much Affection" might strike the contemporary viewer as quaintly conservative and hopelessly naive, I would contend that these impressions derive mainly from its stylistic features. In substance, this film is probably less naive—and certainly less reactionary—than the kind of hysterical dogma that we're used to hearing today, in matters of 'sexual morality'.

Consider that, for all of the melodrama of the daughter's demeanor in the opening scene, her mother's response is actually quite reasonable and lacks entirely the kind of sanctimonious soundbite-moralizing that so plagues our culture today. The mother even assures her daughter unambiguously that sexual attraction is a good and natural thing. Most importantly, her advice to her daughter essentially puts the ball in her daughter's court. Instead of placing her daughter under surveillance and/or telling her that 'boys are evil and/or untrustworthy', she frames it as an issue of self-empowerment and self-formation.

Unlike 2011's self-styled morality police, who wish to somehow alter the world we live in by imposing their personal preferences upon it, the mother realizes that sexuality is part of life and accepts that the best thing she can do is offer her daughter her trust, her advice, and her support. In other words, the film's message to young adults is: sex is an adult phenomenon with adult ramifications, and if you're not careful, it can interfere with your ability to become the autonomous adult you want to be.

Maybe this all comes down to the difference between being conservative and being reactionary. I think by certain definitions, this film could safely be called 'conservative'. I think maybe what's changed between the 1958 version of conservatism and the 2001 version is that people who call themselves conservatives nowadays are in fact 'reactionaries'.

It's a big difference, it turns out.
Reviewer: doowopbob - favorite - July 2, 2010
Subject: ....Did'nt Your....
....Parents Tell You Not To Talk With Your Mouth Full, Cheryl..?..Slurp,Gulp..Ooh,Yes,..Arrg..! Yes Im.......Im..Nope, Just Had A Great Time At Drive-Ins..Fool..!
Reviewer: longfade - favoritefavoritefavorite - June 15, 2010
Subject: Troll

Before I even opened this link I knew I'd see another one of your crass, illiterate posts. You must be one very sexually frustrated - if not deviant - fellow.
Reviewer: autoguy - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 18, 2006
Subject: How Much Hormones?
Mary wait! Oh mom, things seemed to happen, my panties got soggy, we nearly... *gasp* It was so CLOSE! Was is really Jeff's fault Mary? Mixed up are you? Well, mom understands. You see, she had soggy panties herself you know, like mother like daughter it would seem. Yes, mom admits being twisted, and no Mary, it's not wrong. It's not always easy to stop, but mom will help work out Mary's own best way of working things out in the back seat of that awesome '57 Dodge! But gee Mary, Jeff thinks you're swell, and.. and.. he would sure hate to ruin everything. Not just some stuff, EVERYTHING! I mean, look at Fred and Eileen. We know what happened to THEM, don't we?! Eileen looks like a manic depressive zombie, and Fred just loves the steel mill, things are just dandy! No Mary, don't wander away from the party to that dark corner, don't wear the school ring, you may end up like Eileen! What a swell party, c'mon, time to go "park", don't be a pill Jeff, what gives? Yes Jeff and Mary, take a lesson from Fred and Eileen, resist the soggy panties and ruining everything, and have a sandwich instead. Whew! So close!
Reviewer: ERD - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 26, 2006
Subject: Effective
How Much Affection is an intelligent, well made film for its time. Many of its points still hold.
Good acting, direction, and script.
Reviewer: Marysz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 22, 2004
Subject: Sandwiches and Sublimation
Mary and Jeff find themselves on the verge of going ÃÂtoo farÃÂ on a date. Mary confides in her mom, who her tells her to ÃÂslow downÃÂ so that she can exercise ÃÂjudgment rather than emotion.ÃÂ We donÃÂt see Jeff talking to his mom (or dad) about his emotions. As a cautionary tale, we meet Arlene and Fred, who had to get married when Arlene became pregnant. Maybe if Arlene had a mom like MaryÃÂs she could confide in she wouldnÃÂt have ended up pregnant. Fred wanted to be a lawyer, but now heÃÂs stuck working in a steel mill to support Arlene and the baby. ItÃÂs a good thing American cities still had manufacturing jobs that paid a living wage then.

In the last scene, Mary invites Jeff in for a sandwich after a party instead of going ÃÂto the point and park a whileÃÂ like the other kids. They dance together as MomÃÂs disembodied echo-y voice reminds Mary to ÃÂjust slow down.ÃÂ Jeff has an interior monologue and reminds himself that ÃÂwe have so much fun together, IÃÂd sure hate to ruin everything.ÃÂ Mary at least has her mom to talk things out with. Jeff is left on his own to handle his emotions. But he behaves maturely when he recognizes that he can't dump all the responsibiltiy for setting limits on Mary.
Reviewer: Film Fan - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 5, 2004
Subject: Brave Old World
One powerhouse of a movie! Thoughtful. Intelligent.

What a difference 4 decades have made! Were this film made today, mother would have given Laurie a fresh supply of condoms (that is, if Laurie confided in Mom at all). The voiceover would describe how to apply a condom while showing Laurie and Jeff practicing on a cucumber in sex ed class.

People were more civil then. There were only two major STDs, both easily curable with antibiotics. Sex mostly meant pregnancy--not death by AIDS. The advice given in this movie--that you should keep your clothing on and zipped before marriage--was common for the time.

Advice worth resurrecting...
Reviewer: woofa - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 9, 2004
Subject: More Information regarding Crawley Films
First off, many thanks to Rick Prelinger for having the passion and energy to build this site. He is a true visionary and one of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

Mostly posting to indicate to some links.
Firstly there is a new website
and this page re several of the McGraw-Hill Crawley films on this website.

And finally, while the publisher did unfortunately acquire and then discard many of the printing negatives of these films, that wasn't the case for the majority of the Crawley films. Over 30,000 cans are stored at the National Archives of Canada, along with a large collection of production files and stills. Many of these can only be seen on site by appointment, but the production files regarding the McGraw Hill films do exist. They include internal company memos, production data, scripts and revisions, budgetary data, animation and titling requests, telegrams and mail between Ottawa and New York, the whole range of production data, inside the studio and its relationship with the sponsor. Its exceedly rare that such files have been saved anywhere for these types of films. For further information on how to make a research appointment see the website.

And yes, I'm giving this title a five. One of my favourites.
Reviewer: Mr. Snout - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 17, 2004
Subject: Early Marriage Looks Miserable
Entertaining and well made. My personal high-light was when they ran into the girl who had to leave school because she got pregnant and had to get married. (And, of course, she was the "artistic" girl.) While she glowingly describes married life we see visuals of the ugly truth: the deadbeat husband sleeping in as she tells them how much he enjoys his job, etc.

The ending is superb ... they come home to an empty house, each managing to suppress their lust with the help of voiceovers. If they just hold out, they'll have their happiness ... a world where he can come home and she can make him A SANDWICH!
Reviewer: mannie - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 28, 2003
Subject: knocked-up knock-out
Not so ironic after all. Though people today are not nearly so civil as those depicted...gonads are just as unruly then as now. Advice basically boils down to:

"Don't let your pants do the thinking"

Nothin' wrong with a message like that friends.

Plus some pretty good production values (let alone the moral values eh?)
Reviewer: dynayellow - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 15, 2003
Subject: And worst of all, we have no drawings!
This is the world some people want us to return to: where your choice was to have premarital sex, get pregnant and hate your life, or whether to control your RAGING HORMONES and practice total abstinence until you graduate from college.

"Mom" looks like Gollum.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 30, 2003
Subject: Dating discomfort
Rather interestingly told short about Laurie and Jeff, two people who get hot and heavy one night and Laurie is SO ashamed of it. A great show at the beginning has Laurie fleeing Jeff's car. Quite effective. After Laurie has a heart to heart talk with her Mom, she takes it very very slow with Jeff for the time being. You can just sense the discomfort the two have for each other now, and one wonders where there relationship will wind up. Not exactly a bed of roses here. Reccomended!
Reviewer: WTAbernathy - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 14, 2003
Subject: A true classsic
This one has it all. Teen angst, questioning, guilt, approval.

And what inspired dialogue!

"Oh, mother... I don't know what to do. I'm so messed up!"

"Mother, is it wrong to feel warm and affecionate?"

"When you're able to slow down and say no, that's when you truly will become a woman."

"Imagine marrying someone who HAS to marry you..."

And plenty of implied pearls of wisdom, such as:

Teenage pregnancy means you can't become a lawyer.

Double dating: Reliable birth control? Maybe yes, maybe no... depends on who you are doubling with.

Excellent filmography, good lighting... a winner all around. A great offering from our favorite 30 year old teenagers.

One more note: The female lead does justice to the baleful gaze. She makes Dorothy LaMour look like a speed freak. Talk about long pauses;)
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